Washington Post Publisher Shares More ‘Third Newsroom’ Plans With Concerned Staff

In an email with the subject line “Third newsroom,” the Washington Post’s embattled publisher sent a late Friday message to the media outlet’s staff in which he continued to lay out plans for the new separate, audience-focused newsroom set to be run outside of the Post’s traditional editorial structure, a Post spokesperson tells TheWrap.

“Hello, I want to start by saying thank you to everyone who attended this week’s Say It sessions with me and Matt,” Lewis began, citing small sessions with members of the Post’s staff soliciting feedback following significant internal skepticism about the plans he announced for the outlet going forward. “I also want to thank you all for being so open and honest with me about a wide range of topics.”

However, Lewis added that there was one topic that kept coming up.

“Having listened to you this week, the most common theme by far was the Third Newsroom,” Lewis wrote. “Many of you asked for more details about how we would monetize it and who would work in it. A number of you also wanted to know what the Third Newsroom means for your current roles and where certain teams (such as video and audio) would sit.”

The Post’s publisher has faced scrutiny both within and outside the organization as he works to turn around deep losses — $77 million in one year, he told staff last month — while also raising eyebrows with his involvement in United Kingdom media scandals, lashing out at an NPR journalist’s coverage of that scandal and making promises to incorporate AI throughout the Post’s operations.

Lewis went on to use some more branded lingo to describe the effort, explaining, “The Third Newsroom is core to our Build It Plan on a page to reach more, and make more out of the audiences we currently don’t serve — our untapped audience. You could say that it’s us matching our structure to our strategy.”

He continued, describing the Third Newsroom as “an industry defining moment for us” and reiterating his earlier description of this meaning the Post is moving “away from a one-size fits all approach to serving our customers. It will allow us to structure around the future — specializing in the skills required to meet untapped audiences where they are, with content they value.”

While much of his description seemed light on hard specifics, Lewis added something specifically happening quite soon.

“Next week, Matt will be convening a Build It Squad for The Third Newsroom. This cross-collaborative team will work to operationalize our Third Newsroom and I couldn’t be more excited,” he wrote.

He also seemed to introduce the idea of pulling members of the existing staff into this effort, saying, “I know many of you would like to be part of this, so please do look out for more information soon.”

“In addition to this, Caroline Enos and Becca Clemons who so masterfully oversaw our Fix It work will be holding mini sessions around the Build It Plan,” Lewis added. He offered a link for staff to sign up to “hear more about the work that is being done.”

Lewis went on to praise other work the organization has recently done, including a Post live event titled, “The Futurist Summit: The Age of AI.” He added that May was the Post’s second-best month for global subscription volume growth in the past 18 months, noting that its international circulation has reached the highest level since May of last year.

“Steady increases in starts and stable churn have resulted in the higher volumes we’ve been seeing,” Lewis wrote. “These wins are a great example of us highlighting our great journalism, making customers happy and driving revenue — the three pillars of our Build It Plan on a page.”

He followed this by thanking the journalists behind a recent investigative series, highlighting the response to their coverage of Catholic bishops abusing Native Americans, which led to an apology this week.

The publisher closed, “The changes we have been discussing this week and the plan that we’ve developed together are all steps on our way to becoming the best news organization in the world.”

The memo was first reported by the Daily Beast’s Corbin Bolies.

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